colS,S,M,A,4T,2Bar,3B; chorus; 1.picc.1.corA.1.bcl.2-126.96.36.199-timp.perc(2):SD/tgl/cym/glsp/BD/xyl/tamb-harp-strings;
Three crooks who escaped from prison try to establish their lives at large together with their ‘ladies’ (they pretend to be a count, a physician and a singer) by smuggling goods. Always in for amorous adventures, they play the old game ‘Cherchez la femme’. The first meeting is scheduled for eleven in the evening. Rosetta, the young and pretty niece of confectioner Pantalone, turns up, never averse to small smuggling deals. The three ‘dignitaries’ try to arrange a rendezvous with Rosetta. She invites them to the meeting in the evening.
Another of Rosetta’s suitors is Truffaldino, the local police captain, whose job it is to hunt the three runaways down. Rosetta, however, is secretly engaged to a young man from Switzerland. Had it not been for Pulcinella, who observes his surroundings with sharp eyes and a profound knowledge of human nature, the three cooks would have achieved their goal. Pulcinella overhears the crooks talking about their true identities. In the evening, during their meeting, he unmasks them. Together with the police captain, whose record is not as spotless as was originally assumed, they are taken away in a Black Maria, amidst a cheering crowd. Rosetta and Benedetto, her bridegroom, are finally united.